Manchester United let a 4-2 lead slip in the closing seven minutes of play in a rollercoaster of a match with Everton at Old Trafford that could have massive implications for the destiny of the Premier League title.

Holding an eight-point lead just a couple of weeks ago, this late collapse means that a 20th championship is no longer in United's hands. With a superior goal difference, if Manchester City can win their remaining four games, including what is now likely to be a monumental Manchester derby at the Etihad in just over a week's time, they will likely be champions.

That looked a far-fetched proposition as United led Everton, without a win in nearly 20 years at Old Trafford, by 3-1 and then 4-2 late on. But Everton deserve huge credit for putting in such an determined performance a week after the disappointment of their FA Cup semi-final derby loss and with little to play for in the Premier League.

And it was Everton who struck first on Sunday. Nikica Jelavic, again illustrating what an influential signing he has been by rising above Rafael at the far post to meet Tony Hibbert's cross with a looping header over David de Gea.

But United did not take long to get back on level terms, four minutes before the break. Nani curled in a brilliant in-swinging cross from the left that just begged Wayne Rooney to head the ball past Howard from six yards.

United's second goal of the day was not bad either. Danny Welbeck picked up the ball on the edge of the box, created half a yard for himself and curled an inch-perfect shot into the corner of the net.

And it all seemed to be going so well for the home side when Nani made it 3-1 four minutes later with another goal of real quality. A lovely intricate one-touch move, involving Michael Carrick, Welbeck and Nani, saw the Portuguese winger played through on goal, who dinked a clever finish over the on-rushing Howard.

But doubts began to creep in when Everton made it 3-2 with an excellent strike by Marouane Fellaini. Hibbert crossed the ball in from the right, and with United's defense stationary, the Belgian midfielder adjusted his body and displayed exemplary technique to volley home low into the corner.

Yet United restored their two goal advantage just three minutes later with another thrilling attacking move. Some brilliant interplay, illustrating the promise of the burgeoning partnership between Roney and Welbeck, saw the latter slide the ball across for Rooney to slot home his second goal of the game.

The impressive nature of some of United's attacking play will make it all the more frustrating for manager Sir Alex Ferguson that they let things slip at the other end.

There was much blame to put on United's defense for the nature of Everton's third goal. A lofted ball into the box drew both Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans to contest the ball against Fellaini and with neither able to effectively clear, Jelavic had space to pounce and finish clinically from 12 yards.

The impressive Fellaini was again involved as Everton completed their comeback shortly afterward. The man with the unmistakable hair was allowed to twist and turn Evans far too easily in the box before playing the ball across where Steven Pienaar was left unmarked by Rafael to slot home.

For all United will be ruing their inexplicable latest collapse, Everton and Moyes should not be excluded from praise for their efforts. With limited funds, the long-serving Everton boss conducted some great business in January, replacing Louis Saha and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov with Jelavic and Pienaar in a move that has made a huge impact on their fortunes.


Manchester U. 4 - 4 Everton All Goals & Highlights by Anatolly7